Ten white and black police officers have brought a federal lawsuit against a black Columbus, Ohio police lieutenant that accuses her of blatant “discrimination” through the creation of a “hostile” work environment.
The complaints against Melissa McFadden date back to at least 2017 and accuse her of attempting to groom young black police officers to mistrust their white colleagues in creating an “us versus them” type of mentality.
In addition, according to the Daily Beast, McFadden has expressed support for “defund police” movements though she’s been an officer herself for two-and-a-half decades.
The complaint also alleges, among other things, that McFadden has accused her own police force of racism.
The officers’ attorney, Zachary Gottesman, believes more Columbus cops will join the suit because there is “safety” in numbers.
“Before, they were afraid of being isolated as complaining parties. Now, they’re not so concerned anymore,” he told the Daily Beast.
Among the various allegations described in internal affairs complaints against McFadden include her allegedly telling a black officer shortly after five Dallas cops were gunned down by a black Army veteran in July 2016, “if it takes a few officers having to die in order for this country to realize that we have an issue with white officers killing black men, then so be it.”
That officer said he was angered by the comment and went on to claim that McFadden espoused a “black militancy mindset” while recruiting black officers to her patrol and then fomented an “us versus them mentality” between black and white officers, an internal affairs report related to a March 2017 probe states.
“White officers who provided statements also claimed McFadden looked down on proactive policing because she believed it would result in discrimination against Black citizens. Others said they were afraid of using force while she led the patrol team, for fear she might find their use of force excessive because of their race,” the Daily Beast noted.
The “internal investigation concluded the ‘broad swath’ of allegations were proof McFadden had made ‘divisive, racial statements,’ mainly to Black officers about white cops or against the police department. It also concluded she has an ‘anti-law enforcement mentality,'” the outlet contiued.
In May 2018, Police Chief Kimberley Jacobs, who is white, ruled the allegations were sustained and recommended that McFadden be terminated. But Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, who is black, ruled against terminating the lieutenant.
McFadden has detailed some of her alleged personal experiences on the Columbus Police Department in a 2020 book titled, “The Thin Black Line,” which has also led to an internal affairs investigation of her.
As such, she’s also being accused of violating her department’s own directive which states that “personnel shall not publicly criticize the division.”
“I am not here as a division employee but here as Melissa McFadden. As long as I am speaking on something of public concern I am okay to do that,” she told the Daily Beast.
“And these are things that are concerns to the citizens such as racism, sexism, corruption, all those things I speak about in my book relate to those topics,” she added.
McFadden went on to say that after she hit 25 years of service, she is locked in for her pension and is now “bulletproof” and can speak her mind.
“Once I hit my 25 years I was entitled to my pension and no matter what they do to me I am still going to get my pension,” McFadden said. “So that is what I mean I am bulletproof now.”
But her career has been one that has been riddled with internal affairs complaints: McFadden racked up 23 of them over her career, with the bulk of them — 13 — coming in just the past four years.
Three complaints were made by citizens not affiliated with the department over the course of her career. Two of them were for “rude or discourteous language or actions,” according to the Daily Beast, and one was linked to an incident where she used mace on a citizen.
One of those — use of rude language or actions — was found to be sustainable in 2004.
McFadden sometimes used pseudonyms in her book, while in other instances she has named names to include Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlin, whom she called a “racist.”
“The reason why I said their names is they have not been held accountable. No one has been disciplined for any of the things in my book, they get away with it,” she said.
“This is my way of saying enough. Exposing them for who they are and maybe this is a certain level of accountability to me,” McFadden continued.
“I believe I was discriminated against by Chief Quinlan. So therefore I believe he does practice in a systemic racism environment that we have. He participates in it and he doesn’t do anything to resolve the problems,” she claimed.
During her career, McFadden has worked alongside a black mayor, black police chief, and black safety officer, but she says that hasn’t made any difference in the department.
“I find that a lot of times when black people get in positions of power they oftentimes forget where they came from. And as long as they are secure in their own right, their self-preservation, they don’t care about anything else,” she stated.
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